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Written Statements

Volume 643: debated on Thursday 21 June 2018

Written Statements

Thursday 21 June 2018

Treasury

ECOFIN: 22 June 2018

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Luxembourg on 22 June 2018.

ECOFIN will be preceded by a morning meeting of the EIB board of governors:

Annual EIB governors meeting

The EIB board of governors meeting will include a speech by the EIB President Werner Hoyer, a governors discussion, reappointment of the board of directors, and approval of the audit report.

Following this, EU Finance Ministers will discuss the following at ECOFIN:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President will brief the Council on the outcomes of the 21 June meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will provide an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

VAT “Quick-Fixes”

The Council will be invited to agree a general approach on the presidency compromise text in regards to the directive on harmonising and simplifying certain rules in the VAT system and introducing the definitive system for the taxation of trade between member states; the regulation regarding certain exemptions for intra-community transactions and the regulation regarding certified taxable persons.

European deposit insurance scheme

The Council will be invited to take note of the presidency progress report on the European deposit insurance scheme.

Current financial services legislative proposals

The presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

Insolvency directive

The presidency will provide an update on the solvency, restructuring and second-chance directive.

National reform programmes 2018

The Council will be invited to approve 2018 country-specific recommendations as part of the European semester process.

Implementation of the stability and growth pact

The Council will be invited to adopt Council decisions and recommendations in the context of both the excessive deficit procedure and the significant deviation procedure, also part of the European semester.

Convergence reports

Also as part of the European semester, the Commission and the European Central Bank will present the convergence reports, which will then be followed by an exchange of views by the Council.

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Notification of Contingent Liability

I have today laid before the House of Commons a departmental minute describing the contingent liability associated with the new financial framework between HM Treasury and the Bank of England (the “Bank”) 1. On this occasion it has not been possible to notify Parliament in advance of the contingent liability coming into effect, which is due to the market sensitive nature of the measure.

The contingent liability arises from the new capital framework under which the Treasury commits to provide a capital injection to the Bank in the event that its level of loss-absorbing capital drops below a floor level. At present that floor is set at £500 million. The Bank’s level of loss-absorbing capital will be raised to £3.5 billion during 2018-19. This is part of wider reforms to the financial arrangements between the Bank and Treasury, including clearer principles regarding risk-sharing in future Bank operations.

It is not possible to quantify the size of the contingent liability given the unprecedented nature of economic conditions required for the liability to crystallise. A full departmental minute is laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.

1As set out in a memorandum of understanding:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-relationship-between-the-treasury-and-the-bank-of-england

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Defence

Reserve Forces and Cadets Association External Scrutiny Team Report

I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a letter that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson) sent to Lieutenant General (Retired) Brims, the chair of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association's External Scrutiny Team, to update him on the Future Reserves programme, and particularly on the recommendations that his team’s report made. I am grateful to the team for their work.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment Council: June 2018

The next EU Environment Council will take place on 25 June in Luxembourg. My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) intends to represent the UK. Welsh Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM will also attend.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for environment will be a policy debate on the recast of the drinking water directive.

Council will adopt the conclusions for delivering on the EU action plan for the circular economy. There will also be a lunchtime discussion concerning climate adaptation in the EU to 2020 and beyond.

On climate, there will be a policy debate on the regulation of CO2 standards for cars and vans.

Any other business will include information from the Commission on the following legislative proposals:

Regulation on CO2 standards for heavy duty vehicles

Regulation on LIFE Regulation on water reuse

Regulation on single use plastics

Regulation on the alignment of environmental reporting obligations

The Commission will then report on the following international meetings:

EU for Talanoa (Brussels, 13 June 2018)

Ninth Petersberg climate dialogue (Berlin 17 to 19 June 2018)

Ministerial on climate action (MoCA) (Brussels 20 and 21 June 2018)

There are currently three member state-led AOBs:

Beyond 2020—a new global deal on chemicals and waste (tabled by Sweden)

Paris agreement compliance as an essential element of EU agreements, and enforceability of sustainable development provisions of trade agreements through the dispute settlement resolution (tabled by France)

Obtaining ambitious results at convention on biological diversity (CBD) COP 15 in 2020 (tabled by France).

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Exiting the European Union

EU Exit

Today we are publishing a document produced by the UK negotiating team for discussion with the EU: “Technical note—Coordination on External Security”.

This will be available on gov.uk and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

The Government put forward three amendments to amendment 19P carried in the House of Lords on 18 June.

In these amendments, reference is made to a motion “in neutral terms”.

The purpose of this written ministerial statement is to set out the Government’s understanding of the way in which this reference to “in neutral terms” will operate in practice.

Under the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, it will be for the Speaker to determine whether a motion when it is introduced by the Government under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is or is not in fact cast in neutral terms and hence whether the motion is or is not amendable.

The Government recognise that it is open for Ministers and Members of the House of Commons to table motions on and debate matters of concern and that, as is the convention, parliamentary time will be provided for this.

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General Affairs Council: June 2018

Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I will attend the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 26 June 2018 to represent the UK. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member.

The provisional agenda includes:

Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process

Ministers will exchange views and agree conclusions on enlargement, covering the western Balkans and Turkey.

Preparation of the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2018

The Council will discuss the draft conclusions for the June European Council. The conclusions are expected to cover migration; security and defence; jobs, growth and competitiveness; innovation and digital; the multiannual financial framework (MFF); and external relations.

European Council follow-up

The Bulgarian presidency will update ministers on progress in implementing previous European Council conclusions. These covered jobs, growth and competitiveness, and other items, including the Salisbury attack.

European Semester, integrated country-specific recommendations

Ministers will exchange views on the country-specific recommendations (CSRs).

IIA implementation

The presidency will provide an update on the state of play of the implementation of the 2016 inter-institutional agreement on better law making (IIA BLM).

Rule of Law in Poland/Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

The Council will hold a hearing on article 7. The Commission and Poland will also provide updates on this issue and member states will be invited to pose questions to Poland on its response to the Commission’s concerns on the rule of law.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council: June 2018

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence (Earl Howe) and I plan to attend the Joint Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) with EU Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers on the morning of 25 June. I will attend a meeting of the FAC for Foreign Ministers only that afternoon. The FAC will be chaired by the High Representative and Vice-President (HRVP) of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Luxembourg.

The joint FAC will discuss security and defence issues including EU-NATO co-operation. Foreign Ministers will then discuss current foreign policy issues including Yemen, the Red sea and horn of Africa, Jordan, and the EU global strategy.

Joint Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs (Defence) Councils

Security and defence

The Joint Council will have two sessions. The first will cover security and defence during which Ministers will discuss permanent structured co-operation, military mobility, the European peace facility, and EU-NATO co-operation. The HRVP will refer to the March European Council’s tasking on hybrid threats and resilience, which will be discussed by leaders at the June European Council on 28 and 29 June.

The second session will be attended by the NATO Secretary-General, and will cover EU-NATO co-operation, preparation for the NATO summit, and military mobility.

Ministers are expected to approve Council conclusions on security and defence in the context of the EU global strategy.

Foreign Affairs Council

Yemen

Ministers will discuss the latest developments in Yemen, and how the EU can best support the UN special envoy’s efforts to revitalise the political process and work towards the resumption of negotiations. The dire humanitarian situation will be central to the discussion, recognising the urgent need to prevent further deterioration. The impact of the conflict on regional security and stability will also be addressed. The FAC is expected to approve Council conclusions on Yemen.

Horn of Africa/Red sea

Ministers will discuss the importance of inter and intra-regional co-operation in delivering peace, stability, and economic growth in the Red sea and the horn of Africa, including co-ordinated support to Somalia, the resolution of conflict in South Sudan, and the management of water security. The FAC will consider the impact of regional conflict on Red sea shipping routes, and of climate change on existing humanitarian challenges in the horn of Africa. While acknowledging recent positive developments, the FAC will discuss the importance of reform towards greater political freedom and human rights in the region. The FAC is expected to approve Council conclusions on the horn of Africa and Red sea.

EU global strategy

The HRVP will present the second progress report on the implementation of the EU’s global strategy for the EU’s foreign and security policy that was presented to the European Council in June 2016.

Jordan

The FAC will discuss recent developments in Jordan, following country-wide protests and the appointment of a new Prime Minister and Government. The UK remains committed to supporting Jordanian stability and will continue to engage positively with the new Jordanian Government, supporting them to meet their commitments to economic reform.

Council conclusions

The FAC is also expected to adopt Council conclusions on Sahel/Mali.

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Home Department

Immigration

Tomorrow, Friday 22 June, will mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush to the UK carrying passengers from various islands across the Caribbean. The Windrush generation arrived in response to Britain’s invitation to help rebuild the country after the second world war. The Government value the contribution made to the UK by the Windrush generation and we are committed to do right by those who have faced difficulties in demonstrating their status under the immigration system.

I am leading a series of measures across my Department to help put things right. This includes launching a compensation scheme as quickly and as carefully as possible, to help redress what has gone wrong. The call for evidence for the scheme is now complete, and this has given individuals and community groups the opportunity to share their stories and experiences. A public consultation on the design of the compensation scheme will be opened in due course. We will be announcing details of the final scheme and how to apply as soon as possible after the public consultation has ended.

More widely, it is crucial for the Government to learn from what happened, and it is especially important to do so now. To do this we need to understand more about what happened, why it was not stopped sooner, and how we can ensure that it does not happen again. I have already announced that a thorough lessons learned review is under way within the Department to undertake this incredibly important task. In particular, the review will consider:

how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants;

why that was not spotted sooner; and

whether corrective measures are now in place.

I have said from the outset that the lessons learned review needs to have independent oversight to make sure that it is done properly. I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Wendy Williams to this role. Currently one of Her Majesty’s inspectors of constabulary, Wendy brings a wealth of experience, including through her legal background. She was formerly the chief Crown prosecutor for Northumbria and the north-east region. As an HM inspector of constabulary, she has substantial experience of the independent, rigorous and objective assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of public bodies, in the public interest. I am confident that she will bring those essential characteristics, as well as integrity to the review.

The review will take time to do properly. The terms of reference and methodology for the review will be made available to the House before the summer recess.

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International Trade

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys

The Prime Minister has approved two new appointments to the trade envoy programme. My hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Sir Henry Bellingham) has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Libya and my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo. These new appointments take the total number to 32 parliamentarians covering 63 markets. The Prime Minister’s trade envoy programme is an unpaid and voluntary cross-party network, which supports the UK’s ambitious trade and investment agenda in global markets.

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Work and Pensions

Office for Nuclear Regulation Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18

Later today the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2017-18 will be published. Having consulted the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who is accountable for nuclear security, and the Office for Nuclear Regulation, I can confirm, in accordance with paragraph 25(3) of schedule 7 to the Energy Act 2013, that there have been no exclusions to the published document on the grounds of national security.

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